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Which came last, the dinosaur or the egg?

Scientists unearthed remains of a new kind of dinosaur and its eggs in Patagonia recently. The fossil find provides fresh clues to the past.

This image shows imprints of eggs and their broken shells, part of a 77-million-year-old dinosaur nest, as displayed at the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta. A different finding of dinosaur egg fossils leaves scientists wondering: Which died first, the dinosaur or her eggs?

Todd Korol/Reuters

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New evidence suggests that mama dinosaur likely perished at the same time as her eggs.

Researchers in Patagonia recently found skeletal remains of a newly designated genus of dinosaur – Bonapartenykus – near two broken eggshells. Examinations of the bones and eggs suggest that they may have been inside the creature at the time of her death. 

"So it looks like we have indirect evidence for keeping two eggs in two oviducts," Kundrát told LiveScience. "They were close to being laid, but the female didn't make it."

Or maybe not. Other information gathered from shards of eggshells discovered later indicates that some of the eggs had been incubated, and therefore contained embryos at an advanced stage of development. In other words, some of the eggs may have been in the nest, not in the dinosaur.

Though the location of the eggs at the time of the mother's death remains uncertain, the 70-million-year-old fossils hold several more clues to the past.

The remains are from the birdlike dino which belonged to a group of dinosaurs known as the Alvarezsauridae. It's known as Bonapartenykus ultimus, named in honor of José Bonaparte, discoverer of the first alvarezsaurid in Patagonia in 1991.


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